The Thing (2011)
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Starring:Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen
Length: 103 minutes
Release: October 14th, 2011
Paleontologist Kate Lloyd is invited by Dr. Sandor Halvorson to join his team who have found something extraordinary. Deep below the Arctic ice, they have found an alien spacecraft that has been there for perhaps 100,000 years. Not far from where the craft landed, they find the remains of the occupant. It’s cut out of the ice and taken back to their camp but as the ice melts, the creature reanimates and not only begins to attack them but manages to infect them, with team members devolving into the alien creature.
Undoubtably this movie was doomed to fail in comparison to it’s predecessor. The original “The Thing” (which I will review next) is arguably the most influential creature movie ever made and among the very best in the horror genera. Many consider the original to be the very best of John Carpenter’s work (including the man himself). Likewise, hundreds of special effects artists (especially those who work in practical special effects) sight John Carpenter’s The Thing as the most influential movie they ever watched.
So, that’s a LOT to live up to. There is no way anyone (dare I say even Carpenter himself) could live up to the expectations of the classic. So this review will not be a straight comparison of the two films. To do so would not only be pointless, but grossly unfair to both films. Though they are strongly linked to each other in story…they are both a product of their time.
So, where does that leave THIS movie? The main area you will see a drastic difference is in the increase of CGI effects used. As I said, it’s a product of our time…and not the 80s. With that said, the effects hold up pretty good! You can see where they winked at the original in many of the effects, but unfortunately like so many modern day horror movies, they rely too much on special effects to do the scaring. They are grand, and amazing…but without good scary writing and pacing (which is where great horror movies shine) it just doesn’t work as well as it could. That’s my biggest fault with this movie. The special effects are amazing and the creature itself is great…but it’s missing that pacing and imaginative fear effect that all great scary movies have. That’s what separates the good from the great.
Another important point to make clear is that this is not a “reboot” or a “remake” of the original (which was a smart choice). Part of the charm of the original is that the characters stumble across an incredibly messy situation and they don’t know what happened. If you’re a fan of the original and want to keep that a mystery…do NOT see this movie. Myself, I wanted to know. And in my opinion that’s where this movie really shines the most! The developers of this film went through the “crime scene” of the original in painstaking detail to develop story that explains every dead body, location of blood and even the infamous ax on the wall and of course the dog. I found that to bring new life to the original movie and appreciate the original more. Story wise…this fits with the original almost perfectly, and that’s very impressive to watch.
Though the ending was a bit less than I was hoping for (it gets a bit off focus when involving the alien spaceship) it was still better than most modern horror movies. It winks at the unresolved ending the original had…but then takes a different approach. Then, they finally bring it around to the beginning of the original which was a real delight to see. Though it doesn’t hold a candle to the original, it has a special place in my movie library because it does a great job setting up the original which made me appreciate both it and the original more because of it. The Thing (2011) gets 3.5 stars out of 5.